Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Article 3846 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-14-2012
Posting Date: 2-24-2012
Directed by Peter Weir
Featuring Rachel Roberts, Vivean Gray, Helen Morse
Country: Australia
What it is: A puzzle and a tragedy

During a picnic to a natural landmark called Hanging Rock, several girls and a governess vanish without a trace.

Is it a horror movie? If you’re expecting monsters, gore, and violence, then no, it isn’t. But if you’re expecting encounters with the inexplicable, then it is. I’ll tell you at the outset that no explanation is ever found for the disappearance of the girls and the governess, but I don’t see that as a spoiler; the movie isn’t really about the solving of a mystery, but rather it’s about how the lack of any solution impacts all those connected with the girls and the disappearance. There are hints that something unearthly has happened to them, and even if the movie doesn’t make clear exactly what has happened, there is a sense of real dread that grows out of the sexual repression of the era. That repression plays a big role in the proceedings; there are two characters who potentially might know what actually happened, but if they did, they wouldn’t be able to find a way to express it in this repressive world. It’s an art film in many ways, and it prefers subtlety and silence, but if you can respond to it, it’s a gripping and fascinating movie. It’s one of my very favorites.


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